Working with the Future
Sheila Pantry OBE
The world's economy is very much in the news. In a global market, what happens in one country can rapidly affect countries the world over. But what does the current economic turmoil mean for health and safety at work?
The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Futures Team ran a scenario workshop as part of the October 2008 meeting of the Working Group on Action to Control Chemicals (WATCH) and contributed to a Futures workshop at the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), also in October.
Globalisation is the growing interdependence between the economies and businesses of different countries and has been developing for centuries and in particular since the end of the World War II. It is driven by many factors, but key amongst those have driven the major increase over the last decade or so are cheap travel and transport, improved communications, deregulation of trade barriers and development within individual economies.
Globalisation itself is not a health and safety issue, but it drives many changes that may impinge on health and safety. For example, the current trend away from manufacturing in the UK has been driven by low labour costs and the increasing skills and capability overseas and by cheap transport. Could a reversal bring about a revival in manufacturing trends in Britain?
A global economy impacts on our working patterns - the need to be always available to cope with time differences can impinge on work/life balance. The need to deal with other cultures and other languages places additional demands on workers. Globalisation affects migration of workers from one country to another.
The increasing length of supply chains as goods made overseas pass through complex outsourcing networks make it difficult to monitor the quality and traceability - an important issue in safety critical activities such as the construction of nuclear plants.
Foreign direct investment into Britain - the purchase of British companies by overseas owners - may result in changes to the health and safety culture of an organisation, with significant consequences for the ground-breaking work HSE has done in this area.
Major changes in global trade could have significant impacts on the UK economy, driving societal change. UK competitiveness in a global market is one of the uncertainty axes in HSE's Scenarios for the Future of Health and Safety in 2017. For more details see www.hse.gov.uk/horizons.
Do not let the current economic climate interfere in ensuring that good health and safety standards in the workplaces are maintained. The message is "Don't let health and safety slip of the agenda"!
OSHWORLD's FOCUS this month looks at the latest report by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) - called Expert Forecast on Emerging Chemical Risks that identifies the main groups of substances which could pose new and increasing risks to workers, contributing to diseases which range from allergies, asthma, and infertility to cancers. Dangerous substances are not only found in the chemical industry, but also in occupations such as farming, nursing, construction and in many small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) outside the chemical industry.
Remember World Day for Safety and Health on 28 April 2009
OSHWORLD continues to bring you information on health, safety, environment, fire and other subjects that I hope you find useful in your daily work.
Worldwide, plans have been made already up to 2010 to have training courses, symposiums and conferences in many places in the world on a wide range of subjects. Look at the latest additions to the Diary of Events. Don't forget to budget for these events - make sure that you and your colleagues are up-to-date with the very latest knowledge - remember that all workplaces and those working in them change, so continue to do your risk assessments.
Your OSHWorld Portal
Globally new titles, news items, new products are being produced so remember to look at the News to find the latest information from a number of sources. Use OSHWORLD as your portal to many hundreds of validated and authoritative web sites that you can find in the Country and Subject links we offer. New subject topics are constantly brought together on web sites, e.g. nanotechnology.
Most information services have a reference shelf where you can quickly check the reference sources - so OSHWORLD brings you a collection of Reference sources.
Click onto the various Bookshops to order any new document as they are being published. Bookshops have a constant stream of new titles available.
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Keeping up-to-date despite the turbulent times...
So do you want to keep up-to-date in worldwide occupational health, safety, hygiene, road safety, water safety, environment trends and fire latest information? Do budget constraints not allow you to buy all the journals, newsletters and documents that contain the latest information? Can't afford the time to search for the latest information, legislation and standards? No staff to search for this information? And no time yourself to spend hours searching for information?
It is always good to keep researching and finding out if there are services and other ways of keeping up-to-date in this fast changing world of ours. Time is precious and many people are really stretched in their jobs and find it difficult to keep ahead in current knowledge that they should have for their jobs. But help is at hand for those working in health, safety and fire and fire related industries.
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This long established collection started in 1997 as Fire Worldwide and over the years has been rapidly expanding. From 2007 the collection continued to expand with the new software and host platform as FIREINF and aims to help all those seeking information on all aspects of fire, emergency and preparedness management principles, fire risk assessment, good practices and research.
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OSH UPDATE - are you using it? If not, why not? If you are missing OSH-ROM - then try OSH UPDATE
More information on health and safety at work - not only from Europe but around the World, including advice and guidance, legislation and much more can be found by checking out the OSH UPDATE electronic collection of information sources. Seekers will find a wealth of authoritative and validated advice from around the world. Best practices, case studies, journal articles, reports and knowledge of systems are in OSH UPDATE.
OSH UPDATE is CONTINUOUSLY expanding and has 19 databases.
As two information experts have said today - "wonderful, easy to use database collections of full text documents and bibliographic records that are unique and are constantly evolving."
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Don't work harder - work smarter! Be ahead of the game.
Well did you have a zero accident, incident-free and healthy year in 2008 in your workplace? Some would argue that this is not possible! But keep on trying again in 2009!
And do start to make plans for your campaigns for 2009!